We'll start off today's links with a monologue, because I might as well use this space to defend California hockey, right?
SB Nation sent a writer to Saturday's Kings-Ducks outdoor matchup, as well as last night's Rangers-Islanders matchup. Both of them had good takes on what went right and what went wrong at each event. The passage which stuck with me was from the end of Travis Hughes' piece on the Yankee Stadium game:
Millions might watch these games on TV this season, and many of them will get bored by it, if they aren't already. The Winter Classic is a made-for-TV event, sold to a national audience, played on a national holiday by a nationally (or internationally) relevant pair of teams. The Heritage Classic is the same for a Canadian audience.
The Stadium Series is not. It's a locally-relevant, locally-hyped, locally-enjoyed event. It doesn't matter if Tony in Philadelphia calls into sports radio and thinks it's tired, because Tony in Philadelphia is not in New York. He wasn't in the Stadium on Wednesday night, or in Dodger Stadium over the weekend. The Stadium Series is for the people who were. They understand it differently, as of course they would.
That's certainly true, and thank goodness it is, because Saturday's game was objectively kind of dull. But maybe there's something to be said for fans who were there, as opposed to people who were there. Bill Hanstock (who covered the game at Dodger Stadium) was a neutral observer, and as such, he focused a lot more on the pageantry and spectacle of the game as opposed to what it meant to a California fan. And the contrast between the NHL's desire to make this a made-for-TV event (yoga and volleyball? fake palm trees?) and Travis' point that the Stadium Series should NOT be a made-for-TV event led to a slightly negative opinion.
Beach volleyball, fireworks, KISS ... and hockey
The first outdoor ice hockey spectacle in Southern California doubled down on "spectacle." A look at the good and the bad of manufacturing an experience.
On the other hand, he couldn't have known what it was like to see Anze Kopitar take a penalty shot at Dodger Stadium when three years ago, most of LA wouldn't have known who Kopitar was if he was wearing his jersey and skating down Wilshire Blvd. Maybe those outside of Southern California saw the event as a bit of a dud, but for two underappreciated fan bases, it was a reward for all those bandwagon and warm-weather jokes. When the Dodger Stadium sunset faded into the night and Wayne Gretzky walked out of centerfield? It was perfect. Even with the Kings doing their frustrating "we're gonna do everything but score!" routine, it was memorable. And when the headline for the recap article starts with "Beach volleyball, fireworks and KISS," maybe we're missing the point.
What I'm getting at is, Kings and Ducks fans don't care that the NHL was shoving the beach theme in our face, or that KISS had microphone issues, or that the stadium ran out of beer. (Actually, maybe they do care about that last one.) They were just thrilled to see hockey given the kind of stage it deserves in SoCal. And my goodness, how great were Vin Scully and Bob Miller together?
Now, to the links.
- Now that I've given an LA fan's perspective of the game, it's only fair that we include Anaheim's. Anaheim Calling contributor Lolo took a ton of pictures to give you an idea of what happened at Dodger Stadium, while editor Chris had a write-up talking about his experience. Also, I should mention the article that Sean McIndoe (AKA Down Goes Brown) wrote about his trip to California.
- Speaking of which, I was able to meet Chris and some of the AC staff at Friday night's Puck Daddy/The Royal Half LA meetup. Additionally, most of the Kings' diverse blogosphere was there, as were a number of fans who came out and had a good time. To those of you that came up and talked or toasted: it was an absolute pleasure, and I hope we can do it again soon.
- I'll stop talking about the Stadium Series now, but if you missed it, Five for Fighting's performance from the game is worth watching. The integration with hockey was a really nice touch.
- New line combos this morning, via Jon Rosen. Tyler Toffoli will remain on the fourth line for even strength situations, for now. The second and third lines shuffle, and somehow, I'm less confident in both of them.
- WE INTERRUPT YOUR KINGS NEWS TO BRING YOU: BEN SCRIVENS. Making 59 saves.
- Kill some time with podcasts from All the Kings Men and Thx Bud.
- PensBurgh is running a pledge drive for tonight's game. Consider helping out.
- Finally, here are all the stories about the Kings offense you need to read: Robert's take on percentages, Adam Gretz's take on the Kings' style, and Dunn's take while on cold medicine.